Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 28 December 2014

Twelvetrees ready to make history

Billy Twelvetrees is on his way to Australia to give the Lions added options in the back division
Billy Twelvetrees is on his way to Australia to give the Lions added options in the back division

England centre Billy Twelvetrees immediately set his sights on a slice of British and Irish Lions history after answering an injury SOS from head coach Warren Gatland.

Twelvetrees had been due to start for England against Argentina on Saturday, having played a lead role in last weekend's 32-3 victory over the Pumas in Salta, but the versatile 24-year-old is on his way to Australia to give the Lions added options in the back division as they battle a catalogue of injuries just over a week out from the first Test.

Twelvetrees was listening on the radio when the Lions lost the deciding Test of the 2001 series against the Wallabies and he is determined to go one better, as he said: "You look at the history of the Lions and not having won a series in so many years, it is exciting to be involved in what potentially could be a winning Lions series."

He added: "I am hugely honoured to be thought of and very excited to get out there and join up with the squad.

"It is a boyhood dream. I remember the Lions in 2001 in Australia. We were going on holiday to Devon and I listened to that third Test defeat on the radio.

"My mother's side of the family is Australian and it is something dear to my heart. It was disappointing back then but to go out there and meet up with the squad now is pretty cool."

The Lions turned to Twelvetrees because they have injury concerns over fly-halves Jonathan Sexton (hamstring) and Owen Farrell (dead leg) and centres Brian O'Driscoll (groin) and Manu Tuilagi (shoulder).

Twelvetrees is a strong ball-carrier, a solid defender and his play-making ability means he will offer the Lions options at fly-half - the position in which he started his career at Bedford and Leicester - and both centre roles.

"Like any team you get jumped into, if you don't make your presence known straight away there is no point being there," Twelvetrees said. "You get called up for a reason and you have to impose yourself and do the best you can.

"I will play anywhere. To get the opportunity to put on the red shirt will be massive for me my family. I am sure I will slot in and do the best I can, whether it is 10, 12 or 13."

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